Design Con 2015

New tool for creating custom boards

February 13, 2013

susan.rambo-February 13, 2013

If you're a fan of Gumstix's Linux computers-on-modules (COMs), the company has released a new web-based design and ordering system for customers who want to design their own expansion boards. The company has created a simple, free interface that helps users make the right design decisions in designing a board, including a 3-D view of board, guidance with connecting parts, a palette of available modules that can be dragged and dropped onto a virtual workspace, and the ability to share and clone board designs in a community library. The price of the design is made visible in the GUI, so the user can see the price go up or down depending on the modules added to the board and the board's footprint.

Called Geppetto, the system enables users to save their boards by logging in and ordering them. The company manufactures the boards using their own manufacturing capabilities--the boards are all assembled in the U.S. Turnaround time to receive the ready-to-use boards is three weeks, including quality assurance: Gumstix tests all devices to verify functionality.

In press briefing with Gumstix's CEO Gordon Kruberg, Kruberg said Gumstix has 20,000 customers, primarily OEMs who use Gumstix's COMs and expansion boards for prototyping. Although the initial set-up fee on all custom boards is just under $2,000, Kruberg says that price won't be a deterrent. "The folks who we see using this are are using Gumstix already," said Kruberg. "The $2,000 cost of board set up is a fraction of what customers would have paid otherwise" to design and create a prototype. Quantity discounts are available and appear in the price window in the software.


Click on image to enlarge.



Click on image to enlarge.



Click on image to enlarge.



Click on image to enlarge.

Images of the user tool: Geppetto uses simple color coding to show when modules are correctly connected. Geppetto seems pretty easy to learn: I used it myself, having taken a very basic 15-minute tutorial.

The user tool is free to try it out and use. "Our business is selling the hardware. We want to make it easy to sell the hardware," said Kruberg. Users can clone a board from the community section and put it on your own workspace where you can then order the board or adapt it.

The Gumstix team is "amped up internally to launch new features and modules," says Kruberg.

Gumstix uses TI's OMAP processors.

Susan Rambo is managing editor of Embedded.com.

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